Leave any professional field for a substantial period of time and be prepared to be met with some changes in protocol. Some good, some confusing, and some troubling. Like many, the pandemic impacted secondary careers that many of us pursue on weeknights or weekends, and diving is one of the fields that suffered from this.
Earlier this year, I returned to the industry and saw thinner roster sheets, with those who stayed being the most devoted. There were subtle yet much-appreciated advancements in gear as some newer companies like X-Deep cementing their footing in the marketplace. Welcoming trends toward everyone wanting to get their sidemount certifications could be heard in every diveshop I visited. This is welcomed for a lot of our cold waters here in Canada require more redundancy, especially when exceeding depths of 60 feet.
However, there was one trend that I heard pop up three times that I found troubling. This centred on obsessively reducing one’s trim to the point where vital points of redundancy were being eliminated in advanced and technical diving. One mentioned getting rid of the mechanical submersible gauge (SPG) and relying solely on their air-integrated computer. Another two mentioned the same but also threw in that they were leaving their backup dive computer topside. Diving has always been a field that suffered from machismo but never one of complacency. I fear that the sport has become so safe for fit divers that they are now getting too comfortable at depth. As someone who is now working in the industry, I am struggling with how to manage this in a group that I may be leading. Perhaps mandating a SPG with their air pressure gauge and having spare cheap dive computers is one route. The spare computer is one that I have been considering given the rise of the Apple Watch Ultra and the fact that it may lockout after a dive. In an emergency, first responders would need access to the dive computer and having one that locks out is not an option.
Dive operators, Instructors and Dive Masters need to pay more attention to the gear recreational divers choose to take with them into the water. With the rise of dive computers being embedded into normal consumer products, and that of divers becoming more complacent with regard to redundancy, there is even a greater risk for liability on our end.